Running Toward a Dream
The first series opened with the upbeat-but-soothing “장금이의 꿈” (Jang Geum’s Dream) theme song. The DVD release kept the same animation, scenes from early episodes, but replaced the theme song with “달빛소녀” (Moonlight Girl, sung by Lee Seung Hwan and Jeong Seong-mi), which has an epic feel to it.
Series two replaces the song with one titled “Korean Food”. Also, gone are those scenes from the early series one episodes, giving way to scenes showing new characters. Unfortunately, while the series one episodes on the official site have their opening theme portion, the series two episodes do not. Introduced characters in this opening include an old man, a female doctor, a female archer, Yu from the first series, and a young lady. I might have to import the second sound track CD to hear this new song, as well as at its full length. The music the song goes to is actually background music from the first series, and is found on the first series’ OST. It uses some nice-sounding instruments, although I don’t know what they are. Some kind of flute?
The title screen shows Janggeum in a Japanese Apricot Class hanbok, but the series begins with her and the other apprentices all at Orchid Class.
The more things change, the more they stay the same. Yeong-ro continues to try and be innocent when she causes trouble. Back when she overheard Lady Choe’s instructions for the two men to kidnap Janggeum for the duration of the cooking contest, Yeong-ro was worried she’d be accused of being part of it, repeatedly telling Suro she had no part, having merely overheard Lady Choe.
Janggeum, being the eternally nice person, wouldn’t want Yeong-ro or Yeonsaeng to take any blame for the pot of water being dropped. This is no different than when she took responsibility for Tayo hatching, saving Yeonsaeng from punishment. Unfortunately, this means she misses out on what appears to be the arrival of a young queen.
In the flashback, as Yeonsaeng thinks about what happened with Janggeum, Janggeum’s characterized purse appears as being worn. It’s been a while since this was last seen. It sort of disappeared from existence in the first series, so it’s nice to see it back. Maybe it will have some significance this time around. Or maybe not. With Janggeum’s dream reached, there’s time to focus more on the little things with another 26 episodes. There will be a whole new story, to be sure, but I imagine there will be room for things which simply didn’t fit into the first series due to episode count constraints.
Also seen in the flashback, Yeong-ro continues to take items from others. Back around the beginning of the first series, I figured each of the girls would use their skill while working together as a part of a final trial. This never happened (although Yeonsaeng did do a good lot of chopping in the cooking contest), but the characters continue on with their habits and their ways. Too bad this means Yeong-ro hides behind Eunbee to avoid being at the scene of the accident, then laughs to herself when Janggeum gets in trouble. She knows very well it was a combination of her taking something from Yeonsaeng, Yeonsaeng’s temper, and her pushing Yeonsaeng which caused the pot to break.
There’s no explanation as to what happened between the end of series one and the start of series two. Apparently Suro went on another trek. Either he went to buy a gift of Janggeum, or found something along the way. This means one of two things: a relationship has not yet blossomed between Jeong-ho and Janggeum, giving Suro a chance, or a relationship has showed strong potential, and Suro feels he had better act fast.
I’m not really satisfied with how Suro acts when he first returns. Perhaps his love sickness has gotten worse, especially now that everything is going well for Janggeum and there is no threat to her life. Additionally, he looks like he hasn’t taken a single bath since before series one ended. Even if he’s trekking across the country on his own, there’s no way I can believe he wouldn’t stop in a river now and then to wash up, and wash his clothes. After all, he did just fine trekking with Dong-I before meeting up with Janggeum and Yeonsaeng, near the end of the last series, when it was “just us guys”. Yet here, I didn’t even recognize him until his daydream sequence — even his voice and laugh sound different at times — and I’m not alone. Yeong-ro didn’t seem to believe it was him either. Chang-I looked skeptical as well about Yeonsaeng referring to the dingy man as Jang Suro.
Finally, Geum-yeong and Janggeum appear to be able to work together as friends, rather than compete as rivals. I’m not sure what Eun scolded Yeong-ro for, but Yeonsaeng and Chang-I sure added to it. Maybe Eun was saying something about getting along with others, or teamwork?
The scene with Jisung and Dong-I (the latter appearing to have become a fine young guard) leading up to their poking Suro in the behind, and his reaction, it gives a different feel from the first series. Everything else seems fine, but the scenes with Suro give this series a lower-quality feel to me, as if they’re trying to inject more humor into it. I did get a laugh out of the girls running out to see what the commotion was, though, with Yeonsaeng holding a broom, Chang-I a lid, and Janggeum ready for action wielding a rolling pin.
I don’t know what changed for Yeong-ro to realize that the dirty-looking man actually was Suro, but even she has to step back at that stench. Even when he runs off, she obviously wanted him to stay around a little longer.
When Jungjong is talking with Jeong-ho about the doctor leaving the palace, I’m quite certain he mentions Haeya. Doctor Haeya and her father must be long gone by now. Could this be a replacement doctor, to take Haeya’s place? And if so, did she have to leave her home (perhaps another palace) against her will to be Jungjong’s physician?
Even though I do feel humor is trying to be forced, I also laughed when Jeong-ho tried to force out whoever was spying on him delivering an item from Jungjong to Lady Han, only to find it was Lady Choe’s cat, Yeri. Poor Yeri, looked scared out of a few lives. Thankfully Jeong-ho didn’t unleash his sword, or the cat might have turned white from fright.
While Yeri may not have been a threat, it appears the younger of the Bumbling Duo is watching. Or perhaps someone else, some who can actually sit in a tree without being noticed. The concern is, of course, the figure Lady Choe is talking with. Hopefully she’s not plotting ill will against Lady Han and Janggeum, but she does talk about Lady Han immediately after, and she’s obviously scheming something.
I don’t know what gossip Chang-I was passing on this time, but she might have said either “Geum-yeong” or “Jang Gyeong” (or both), the latter being the young queen seen earlier in the episode. I gather Janggeum goes to ask Lady Han about this gossip, only to overhear Lady Han and Court Granny in a serious conversation. Afterwards, it sounds as if she mentioned Geum-yeong.
The next scene introduced a man bringing goods to Hanyang. I’ve read that this is Lady Choe’s older brother, thus Geum-yeong’s uncle, Choe Pansul.
No matter what, Suro just can’t get a break. When he finally gets to be with Janggeum, he’s helping carry things. He’s strong, so it can’t be too hard for him. When Yeong-ro came running, I feared he’d pull out the item he bought for Janggeum just as Yeong-ro arrived, causing her to believe it to be for her. It’s amazing what she’ll put up with, and not even once consider how Suro treats her. She must imagine he’s playing hard-to-get, but I can’t help but feel sorry for her. After all the mean things she does, and all the trouble she causes, I still feel bad for how Suro treats her.
The Bamboo Class assistant to Lady Han, originally seen in episode one, not only appears more, but has a nice number of lines this time around. Maybe I’ll remember her name one of these days, but for now it’s just good to see her with more dialogue than the dogs get. She seems more comfortable around the girls by now, which is natural with as long as they’ve been around the palace.
The king’s item moving hands from Lady Han to Janggeum is rather curious. I wonder if I’m missing out on the purpose for it silently moving from person to person, leading up to Janggeum. Also, it would be nice to know why Yeong-ro and Eunbee brought Lady Choe out. The girls seem to have been on a food delivery mission. I don’t see how Jangguem can get in trouble for having the wrapped item, though, as Han passed it on to her.
Looking at the next episode preview, the item appears to be something special to the new doctor. She must be the one the girls are taking the food items to, and if that’s the case, Lady Choe can be in big trouble for intercepting a special item the king himself wanted delivered.
The ending theme uses SD-style characters again, computer-generated style. The characters look to be playing a game similar to red-light, green-light, with the goal being one of them tagging Janggeum. On the linked Wikipedia page is mention of a similar game, “sneak up on granny”, where one player is “granny”, and the other players much sneak up on her, which sounds closer to the game Janggeum, Suro, Jeong-ho, and Yeonsaeng are playing.
The ending animation is cute, and the song is nice, but it’s so short! The first series’ DVD’s opening song is almost a minute and a half long, the television version probably has a theme song about a minute in length, and the ending is one minute long. A 45-second ending theme for the second series is extremely curious. Even worse, at the end of this episode on the official web site, the ending cuts out after a half-minute, leaving out the part were Suro hurries away from Janggeum, trips over Yeonsaeng, then is miffed to find Jeong-ho is left standing beside Janggeum, hearts appearing between the two. Naturally, the remedy to the short song is to buy the second series soundtrack.
The first half of the episode had me uncertain about this second series, with Suro’s actions, and the overly exaggerated faces of Suro and Yeong-ro at times. Overall, the episode wasn’t bad at all. I look forward to the next episode, and the following 24 episodes.
I’m hoping to see more of a role for Eunbee this time around. With another 26 episodes, there’s room for exploring these background characters a little bit more.
I may have mentioned before, it sounds as if Jeong-ho and Suro are called “douri” (translated as “my lord” in series one’s English subtitles), but it sounds as if Yeong-ro says “Jang Suro nouri”. I really should check a series one DVD’s Korean subtitles and find out how these are spelled, then look up the meaning and differences between the two. I’m assuming “nouri” is said with a bit of affection added in, whereas “douri” is more respectful and less “familiar”.
I wonder if it will be more difficult for me to pick up new words without the subtitles, or actually easier. The argument for it being easier would be that, because I have no English subtitles to lean on, I’ll focus more on the words spoken and the situation and circumstances in which they’re used.
Having thought the series was over after 26 episodes, it’s good to hear Yeonsaeng’s voice again. Hopefully the series will wrap up any potential loose ends in a satisfactory way, and find a proper ending after the next 26. I wouldn’t want to see the series go on for too long. As it is, this second series does feel as if it’ll be unnecessary extra. I hope this feeling washes away after a few more episodes, but it may always feel like an extension.
Things are a little different starting with this commentary. Some names are written to better match their Korean pronunciation. These would be Chang-I, Dong-I, and especially Geum-yeong. I considered Jang-Geum and Yeon-Saeng, but because “Janggeum” is used on the products, I kept Janggeum and Yeonsaeng the same as before.